Finally! The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) today issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for two small parcels of the South Aud Block. ECHDC is encouraging mixed-use plans that increase and diversify neighborhood offerings, attractions and opportunities. The parcels are located along the canal system at Main Street. The state will enhance the development with approximately $2 million for reconstructed streets and other required infrastructure. Proposals are due to ECHDC by October 5, 2017.
“This is an invitation for both small and large developers to create a neighborhood feel at Canalside with restaurants and entertainment venues on the street level and residential on the floors above,” said Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation Chairman Robert Gioia. “It is an exciting time for ECHDC, as the state’s investment to make Canalside a true destination has paid off and we can solicit a variety of private developers to further the success of Canalside.”
Parcel A2.2 Area: 0.30± acre
Parcel A2.3 Area: 0.13± acre
The two parcels on the approximately half acre site—located across Main Street from One Canalside and the HarborCenter and adjacent to the popular replica canals and the future Explore & More Children’s Museum—are considered prime downtown parcels due to their proximity to Buffalo’s revitalized waterfront. The parcels are bounded on the north by the new canals, on the east by Main Street, on the west by Lloyd Street and the south by Canal Street/Marine Drive. The site is split into two parcels by the former Prime Slip right-of-way and proposals will be considered for the use and redevelopment of one or both parcels.
The RFP seeks mixed-use proposals from large and small experienced real estate developers for the purchase, long-term lease or a combination thereof, and redevelopment of the parcel(s) of land in accordance with the overall Canalside Modified General Project Plan (MGPP). New York State will accept any and all development proposals for uses and activities at the property, although retail/restaurant is envisioned on the tow path/at-grade level, with residential and office space on upper floors of the building. ECHDC has a preference for locally-owned and operated retail and restaurants as opposed to national chain operations. New York State Brownfield Tax Credits will also be available to the developer.
The RFP permits a variety of proposed land uses, though proposals are required to include certain design features. From the RFP:
The former Prime Slip will also be reconstructed in an interpretive, hardscape/landscape without fully re watering it. Public access from Marine Drive to the canals is required to remain in place and this space may also be used for Canalside’s programming, outdoor seating, and special events. Lighting of the canal from the building exterior along the towpath is also required.
Given the scale of these buildings, a shared, underground refuse collection area may be of interest to ECHDC if it could be used to accommodate Explore & More Children’s Museum refuse.
It is expected that the reconstructed streets, heated sidewalks Prime Slip, and canal lighting noted above will be completed by the Designated Developer, as approved by the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation. Two million dollars will be provided by ECHDC for the capital construction of these required features. Underground refuse, if accepted by ECHDC, would be negotiated separately. In accordance with the Canalside Design Guidelines, the remaining two parcels (A2.2 and A2.3) would be built to the lot lines and within the height limits for this site. The overall success of the area will be based on how well each building work with others and the public realm.
ECHDC is seeking Proposals that are responsive to, but are not limited to, the following development priorities:
1. Aligning with the goals of the Canalside General Project Plan;
2. Meeting Project requirements outlined in the RFP Section3.1;
3. Providing a mixed-use facility that enhances the Canalside neighborhood offerings;
4. Maximizing groundfloor (towpath and street levels) activation with local, non-chain retail;
5. Encouraging residential units with balconies on upper floors;
6. Maximizing economic impact;
7. Maximizing visitor and pedestrian traffic at Canalside;
8. Maximizing Common Area Maintenance charges towards ensuring long-term sustainability of Canalside;
9. Minimizing the project contribution required by ECHDC;
10. Featuring meaningful participation of New York State certified Minority and Woman Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) in the Project Team;
11. Incorporating sustainable building practices and LEED Silver Core & Shell;
12. Recognizing the principles outlined in “A Public Statement of Principles for High Road Development of Buffalo’s Waterfront” (link);
13. Incorporating commercial spaces of 300 sq.ft. and less to lower barriers to entry for local, small businesses. In addition to the above priorities, ECHDC will NOT consider any Proposal that includes the relocation of existing businesses from within the City of Buffalo’s central business district.